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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]


Mr. F. Y. Lethbridge, M.H.R. for the Rangitikei Electoral District, was born in New Plymouth in 1852, his father being one of the earliest settlers there. After attending a private school for a time, the subject of this notice went to Nelson Public School, then to the Boys' High School, Christchurch, and finished in a private school in Wellington. After leaving school he went to work on his father's farm, till in 1876 he can be to Feilding to take charge of his present run, which is held in the name of Lethbridge and Sons (George Y., John P., Harry H., and Frank Y. Lethbridge). The estate is 7000 acres in extent, principally pastoral country. On the front part of it are the first racing track used in Feilding, the golf links, the polo ground, and the cricket and football clubs' ground. There are about 6000 sheep, 600 head of cattle, and a number of horses on the run. Some twenty men are employed, and there are the usual station buildings and a dwellinghouse, over-looking Feilding. Mr. Lethbridge has been prominent in public life for some years. He first came before the public as one of the original members of the Manawatu County Council, and was treasurer of that body for a year. The other public positions he has held are as follows:—member of the Manchester Road Board for fourteen or fifteen years, and chairman for six years, one of the first councillors of the Borough of Feilding, and mayor in 1882 and 1889; and a member of the Feilding School Committee for several years. He is now a member of the Wanganui Education Board, Palmerston North Hospital Board (of which he was the first chairman); member of the committee of the Manawatu and West Coast Agricultural and Pastoral Association, president of the Feilding Jockey Club, Polo Club, Golf Club, Cricket Club, member of the Bowling Club, Football Club and vice-president of the Cycling Club. He was captain for several years of the Manchester Rifles, and was a lieutenant in the militia. He married his cousin Miss Lethbridge, of New Plymouth; and has three children. In politics he is what is known as a Conservative. In 1893 he contested the Rangitikei seat with Mr. J. Stevens, being defeated by 178. At the general election in 1896, he defeated Mr. W. Bailey, by a majority of 271.

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Mr. Robert Cunningham Bruce, ex-M.H.R, for the Rangitikei district, was born in East Lothian, Scotland, and spent his early years in Ireland. At an early age he went to sea, and while still in his teens worked on the goldfields in New Zealand and Queensland. Not being successful, he again went to sea, sailing chiefly in American ships, and was also for two years on the great American lakes. Deciding to settle down, he came to New Zealand in 1877, taking up land in the Paraekaretu district, where he remained for six years. He then took a trip Home, working his way before the mast from Sydney. Returning to the Colony in 1884, he was elected member for Rangitikei, and was again returned in 1887. In 1890 he was defeated by Mr. Geo. Hutchison for the Waitotara electorate, and in the following year by Mr. F. McGuire for Egmont. At the bye-election in 1892 for Rangitikei he was again elected for that constituency, but did not stand at the general election of 1893. At the general elections of 1896 he contested the Manawatu seat, being defeated by sixty votes. Mr. Bruce is a staunch Freetrader, and a brilliant orator.

Mr. Douglas Hastings Macarthur, ex-M.H.R. for the Rangitikei district, whose death took place at Feilding on May 24th, 1892, was inseparably connected with the districts of Rangitikei and Manawatu, but more particularly so with the township of Feilding. He represented Rangitikei in two Parliaments, defeating Mr. J. Stevens in 1887, and the Hon. F. Arkwright in 1890. As an authority on finance in the House he had few equals, and one of the best measures at present on the Statute Book—the Government Loans to Local Bodies Act—owed its inception to him. Mr. Macarthur was respected and his ability recognised by politicians on both sides of the House. He was offered a position in the Atkinson Government of 1887, but did not accept it owing to the opinions he held on the Customs tariff. Born in 1839 at Edinburgh, he arrived in New Zealand in 1856. For some years he worked his farm near Collingwood, and was also a miner on the Marlborough, Otago, Westland, and Nelson goldfields, where he was moderately successful. When the settlement of the Manchester Block was inaugurated, he received from the London office the appointment of sub-agent to the Corporation. under Mr. A. F. Halcombe, the chief representative. When the latter gentleman was appointed to the management of the Patetere settlement, Mr. Macarthur took up the duties of the position. From the time of his arrival in the district he took the keenest interest in its welfare, and threw himself into all local matters. He held at various periods the following positions:—Chairman of Manawatu and Oroua County Councils, and of the Manchester Road Board, district coroner, first mayor of the borough of Feilding. (which office he held for three years in all), vice-president of the Feilding Jockey Club, patron of the Football Club, captain of the Manchester Rifles, member of the Foresters' Lodge, and a distinguished brother of the Masonic order. His public and private character cannot be too highly estimated. Mr. Macarthur left a widow and three daughters.

Major William J. Willis, who represented Rangitikei in the House of Representatives in 1880, was born in 1840 in Sussex, England. He was educated at Eton, and joined the army as an ensign. In 1862 he came to New Zealand with his regiment, and shortly afterwards was appointed Magistrate in the Wairarapa. Two years after his arrival he sold out, and purchased an estate near Marton, now known as Woodendean, which is still in the possession of his widow. Major Willis was at one time Resident Magistrate for Marton, his district extending to Otaki and Awakino. He died in 1884, leaving a widow, three sons, and seven daughters.